Shai Agassi: eMile’s and Electric Cars

I’m standing in for Ethan Zuckerman, blogging from TED today. This post is part of a series from the TED 2009 conference held in Long Beach, California from February 4-8th. You can read other posts in the series here, and the TED site will release video from the talk in the coming weeks or months. Because I’m putting these posts together very quickly, I will get things wrong, will misspell names and bungle details. Please feel free to use the comments thread on this post to offer corrections. You may also want to follow the conference via Twitter or through other blogs tagged as on Technorati.

Shai Agassi is a green auto pioneer, and he wants to put you behind the wheel of an electric car — but he doesn’t want you to sacrifice convenience (or cash) to do it. Check out his amazing project at Better Place, and make sure to read his blog.

How would you run a whole country without oil?

Shai focuses in on the electric car. You need a car that’s more convenient and more affordable than today’s cars. This isn’t a $40k sedan, nor is it something you drive for one hour and charge for 8 hours. So, how do you do this?

eMiles and electric cars

You separate the car and battery ownership. You create a network before you create the devices, a network for charging your vehicle. The second step is increasing the range extension (which currently is about 120 miles). You have a batter swap system, which actually happens less than what people normally stop for fuel in a normal car.

From molecules to electrons:
Gas tank >> Battery bay
Crude oil >> Battery pack

eMile, the new commodity. In 2010 this is about 8 cents/mile. But, in his model they follow Moore’s law, where by the year 2020 he expects it to be about 2 cents/mile.

“Hybrids are like mermaids. When you want a fish you get a woman, when you need a woman you get a fish.”

Where has this been working? Israel, Denmark, Australia, Hawaii and San Francisco.

Shai foresees 10 million electric vehicles by 2015. A future where all the cars will be driven by windmill power (in Denmark) and by solar power in other areas.

3 thoughts on “Shai Agassi: eMile’s and Electric Cars

  1. I have huge respect for Agassi.
    But, more important than electrifying our vehicle fleet, is to simply stop driving. We can easily work online with each other. We might need to have some more broadband roll-out in rural places (maybe wimax?). But in places with broadband, working from home, or coworking near home is a no-brainer. I won’t EVER buy a car.

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